International Cost of Living Calculators

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Asia Pacific Expat Cost of Living Comparison Rankings August 2016

Hong Kong has not only retained the top spot as the overall most expensive in Asia-Pacific, it has become the most expensive city in the world, mainly due to the extremely high housing costs, as well as high cost of schooling and limited space available making rentals high. However, when you exclude costs related to housing, education, medical and transport, Hong Kong falls out of the top ten city rankings for this region. This indicates that Hong-Kong is not the most expensive place for other basket groups. Even though the current Government is committed to promoting economic development, improving people’s livelihood, and taking forward constitutional development for more effective governance, the overall high cost of living has resulted in living standards stagnating. In addition the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) has appreciated against most currencies in the past year, owing to its peg to the US Dollar, driving up the cost of living locally and contributing to Hong Kong maintaining its place at the top of the Asia-Pacific rankings.

Xpatulator.com has been created to calculate expatriate pay using online calculators and an extensive database of cost of living and hardship indexes, for 780 international locations. The database is updated quarterly. Subscribers use this information to ensure expatriate salary spending power is maintained when on an international assignment. Salary spending power is affected by cost of living, hardship and exchange rate differences between the home and host location.

Singapore remains the second most expensive city in the Asia-Pacific region for expatriates (4th most expensive in the world) and tops the region rankings when costs related to housing, education, medical and transport are excluded. The Singapore Dollar (SGD) has lost only 7% against the US Dollar in the past year, far lower than most other countries that are not pegged to the USD. Singapore's education system, which is widely regarded as the best in the world, is also the most expensive for expatriates when priced in US Dollars, the cost of housing is also extremely high due to the limited space and premium on high quality expatriate accommodation, while the complex Certificate of Entitlement system makes car prices excessive, resulting in Singapore’s transport costs being amongst the highest in the world.

Tokyo is the third most expensive city in Asia-Pacific. This is mainly due to the strength of the Japanese Yen, which has held steady against the USD, while most other currencies have weakened. In addition factors such as consumption tax increases have resulted in US Dollar prices increasing in global terms.

Shanghai is the fourth most expensive place for expatriates in the Asia-Pacific region, and 17th globally. Shanghai has been attracting expatriates for 150 years. Shanghai is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in China. In more recent times fewer expats are moving to Shanghai due to the economic downturn in China as well as the trend to replace western expatriates in top positions with foreign-educated Chinese. Many professional expatriates work in management positions, and are paid significant premiums to move to China in the form of various types of hardship compensation for the relatively large cultural challenges and worsening air pollution. Some are even offered a pollution hazard pay. In Shanghai housing, education, international brands of food as well as dairy products or fresh produce is expensive. Housing in the sort after expat suburbs is extremely expensive, but can be more reasonable further out. Schools are plentiful but expensive. Many expats complain that expenses have skyrocketed in the past few years. Not everything however is extremely expensive. Transport, meals out and communication is relatively cheap. A meal in a western restaurant is typically around $10, while a trip on the extensive and modern subway system is usually less than 1$. Xpatulator.com compares the cost of living for expatriates by pricing internationally recognized quality brands, based on international spending patterns for comparison purposes, within expatriate residential areas, in order to make consistent global comparisons. In the past few years international brands and services applicable to expatriates have become more expensive, pushing up the overall cost of living.

Australia now has only one city in the top ten, compared to four in 2014, with Sydney maintaining 5th in Asia-Pacific, largely as a result of the weaker AUD compared to USD. The Australian Dollar weakened approximately 12% against the US Dollar during 2015.

The cheapest Asia Pacific city is Nuku'Alofa in Tonga. Nuku'Alofa is particularly cheap for housing, restaurants, meals out, and transport.

For more, read a free cost of living review for the following Asia Pacific locations:

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